Finding Beauty in the Journey: Clark ’22 Reflects on SAAM and The Clothesline Project

Michaela Clark ’22, a psychology major and sociology minor from San Diego, has worked with LMU CARES as a student employee since her first year at LMU. She also serves as an LMU CARES ambassador who is helping plan the events and advocacy for Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in April. Clark shares why this month is important to her and how her experience in LMU CARES has shaped her journey on the bluff and beyond.

Michaela Clark ’22
San Diego, CA
Major: Psychology
Minor: Sociology

IMG 8048 scaled e1651527818731 279x300 - Finding Beauty in the Journey: Clark '22 Reflects on SAAM and The Clothesline ProjectWorking in the LMU CARES office and as an ambassador for the program, Clark has made many connections with students sharing a similar perspective and passion for social justice work. One of her favorite parts of working for LMU CARES has been seeing how Wellness Wednesday has developed during her time at LMU. She has been able to see the growth of what was an idea in the summer of 2019 and give input as a student on how the event could run into a weekly signature event that helped bring the LMU community back together after being apart during the pandemic.

As an LMU CARES ambassador, Clark has been working with a team of students to design a bookmark with information and resources and social media to educate and support the LMU community. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an important way for the campus community to engage in productive conversations on supporting survivors of sexual assault, effects on survivors and campus resources, proper language to use when talking to a survivor about their violence, and the best way to support the survivors in our community. Her advice to the campus community is to be intentional about learning how to support survivors during this month. “Even if you’re not able to attend the events this month, there’s a lot of information you can read,” said Clark. “It’s important to dedicate some time to educating yourself and learning about the resources available on our campus.”

IMG 1673 300x260 - Finding Beauty in the Journey: Clark '22 Reflects on SAAM and The Clothesline ProjectDuring SAAM, the event that has impacted Clark the most is The Clothesline Project. “For me, knowing the context of what the project is and seeing the different colored shirts and what they represent really has impacted me,” said Clark. “These are real stories about things that happened to people in our campus community. I think that is incredibly impactful. Some things you read break your heart and give you the reality of what a survivor’s experience looks like, which is really important. There are also some really inspiring and supportive messages from survivor to survivor that people have written, which is really powerful. I’ve also seen a lot of really great conversations viewing the exhibit, which can be a great way to engage in the conversation that we’re supposed to be having this month.”

For Clark, her role in LMU CARES has challenged her and helped her confidence grow. “Going into my role, I didn’t have a lot of personal confidence in my knowledge and ability to help people,” said Clark. “I learned a lot about finding confidence in helping and leading people. When a student is in crisis, I gain a lot of experience in difficult situations and communicate with people calmly. Some parts are difficult to deal with, especially when trying to create change and get excited about an idea, but it takes longer to implement. There has been beauty in that growth for me and to see the hard work.”

As a graduating senior, Clark sees a lot of potential in the future for great conversations and inspiration for others to continue the work being done. “I started working in sexual assault awareness and prevention in high school as a survivor myself,” said Clark. “The work has been rewarding to me, and I can give that support to my institution. You spend four years in a place where you have to find yourself and be able to connect with others on that journey. Being able to contribute to the community in a meaningful way has been rewarding, and getting to see the community’s growth is really beautiful. We’ve done a lot of great work with even greater changes coming in the future, and I know that I will be able to see that change continues for years to come.”

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After graduation, Clark plans to attend the University of Denver to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and to continue similar work with a future role in student affairs. During her time there, she will also be working in a graduate assistantship on campus as a graduate peer supervisor leading student leaders in their work on campus and being part of meaningful conversations that focus on student wellness. Something that she’s had firsthand experience with giving input and helping to execute Wellness Wednesdays at LMU.